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Report on 'Deficiencies' Didn't Show the Good Side

May 02, 1991

I would like to correct an impression left by Ed Newton's and Denise Hamilton's story that South Pasadena's schools are in a state of decline (Times, April 16). The article depicts a subculture, particularly at the high school, that is undermining the achievement standards of which South Pasadena is justifiably proud.

By excluding information that puts his feature into proper context and by not recognizing that his story is a reflection of but a small part of the entire student body, Mr. Newton is guilty of promoting half-truths, which, as we know, are often worse than lies.

My oldest daughter was portrayed as someone who, after witnessing student violence and graffiti on the middle school campus, decided to leave the district for a private school education. In reality, she made her decision over a year ago--before any student clash and before the district's funding crisis.

She chose this private school because of the beauty of its campus and because she determined the school's strict college prep status would afford her the best possible choice of universities, not because of any perceived deficiencies in a South Pasadena school education.

Mr. Newton knows this because I made it very clear during our interview. Apparently, he chose not to use that information in his article because it would have diluted the dramatic effect he was hoping to create, regardless of the fact that it would have brought him closer to the truth.

Most certainly, our school district has its problems. Like many districts, lack of sufficient funding has threatened teaching positions and programs that can make a critical difference in the future success of our young people. For some unexplained reason, the state has chosen not to make public education a priority; however, a community firmly in support of its schools can overcome any difficulty.

It is only through complacency and a refusal to acknowledge that problems may exist that good school districts can slowly deteriorate. If Mr. Newton's article has triggered anger and resentment in the people of South Pasadena, then maybe there is an opportunity for some good to come out of all of this.

I call on every parent, teacher and interested citizen who is upset by The Times story to channel their energies in a positive direction. Join me and others who have been working for years to support our Educational Foundation and, more recently, the Emergency School Funding Task Force, to maintain the standards, which we all too often tend to take for granted.

South Pasadena has always been an excellent school district. Let's keep it that way, for the sake of the kids as well as the community.

JAMES C. HODGE JR.

South Pasadena city councilman

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